Belgian residents who have children in primary education are undoubtedly familiar with Bingel, the digital learning platform for primary education in Flanders. It is developed by VAN IN, the largest educational publisher in Belgium and a part of Sanoma Learning, a division of the Finnish Sanoma group. With approximately 180 employees and many more authors, they are aiming for innovative and high-quality learning and teaching materials, both in Flanders and Wallonia.
The summer break has started! Two months of well-deserved holidays for Belgium’s youngsters, far away from their familiar school benches. Yet again, this also is the start of the so-called summer slump: children’s education level drops significantly during those two summer months.
That’s why educational publisher VAN IN teamed up with us to beat the summer slump with the brand-new Zomerbingel app, now with augmented reality (AR)!
The first version of the Android and iOS Zomerbingel app was published a few years ago, but at the end of 2018, VAN IN decided to take it to the next level and asked icapps to work on Zomerbingel 2019.
What we did
We pioneered by adding augmented reality to the app. By activating the AR mode, the game board literally comes to life: an entire, animated volcanic island now appears on the tablet’s screen, adding extra flavor and fun to the game.
The first version of the Android and iOS Zomerbingel (‘Summer Bingel’) app was published a few years ago, but we further update the app every summer. This year, we pioneered by adding augmented reality to the app. Since the launch in June 2019 the Zomerbingel apps have been downloaded more than 20.000 times. There are versions for every grade of primary education and for toddlers.
“Actually, the Zomerbingel apps are for the entire family”, says Winfried Mortelmans, Managing Director at VAN IN. “Our idea was to allow the kids to prepare for the next school year individually or together with friends or family in a playful way. With icapps, we have developed a board game with questions for every child’s level. We decided to take it to the next level at the end of 2018 and asked icapps to work on Zomerbingel 2019.”
This has resulted in a very engaging and fun tablet app for both Android and iOS, which doesn’t require an internet connection so that you can use it offline too. Zomerbingel 2019 offers new exercises, in different experience modes. Totally new is that you can use the game in a new dimension.
AR complements the imaginative world
“We do a lot of development work ourselves, but for app development, we rely on partners like icapps. They always think out of the box and have already successfully developed the 'Bingel Raket' app and the previous versions of Zomerbingel for us in the past”, Lieven Bossuyt, International Product Manager at VAN IN adds. “icapps started brainstorming about what Zomerbingel 2019 could best offer to users and they have proved once again to be very creative by suggesting to add augmented reality, which was a first for us.”
AR enriches the world a user perceives through his/her device by combining the camera stream with digital content in real-time. In doing so, you can add rich content to reality. The idea to add AR to Zomerbingel originated from one of the many innovation roadmaps we organize at icapps. These allow us to explore new technologies and how customers and partners can benefit from them.
“We believed augmented reality could add real value to the user experience of the Zomerbingel app”, says Wouter Martens, CTO at icapps. “VAN IN loved the idea and immediately went all-in, also because we didn't just want to implement AR because it is cool or trendy. It was not the goal as such but a technology feature that had to complement the imagination of children. And it does!”
How does it work?
Through the camera of your tablet, you look at the Zomerbingel 2019 paper game board. By activating the AR mode, the game board literally comes to life: an entire, animated volcanic island now appears on the tablet’s screen, adding extra flavor and fun to the game. Check out the (Dutch spoken) video to see how it works!
It was an amazing experience to see the island emerge from a map in real life. Both VAN IN and icapps really allowed me to let my creativity run free!
Agile project approach
Our colleague Pieter Matthieu, Digital Designer at icapps, was the graphic design lead for Zomerbingel 2019. His design work included the app but also the tangible, paper game board in 2D, the menu screens in 2D, the 3D assets and their animation and the sound design. “AR design gives a lot of satisfaction because you can always view your result "live" in the real world. It was great fun to crawl into a child's head while designing to discover what a child would find fun and cool. It was an amazing experience to see the island emerge from a map in real life. Both VAN IN and icapps really allowed me to let my creativity run free!”, he says.
Pieter’s design and development processes were done in an agile way, with two-week iterations to show the project’s progress to the customer with a demo, a review or the coordination of requirements. This iterative and agile project approach was greatly appreciated by VAN IN.
With the help of gaming experts
As we had conceived a very game-oriented concept for the new Zomerbingel 2019, we decided to onboard Firewolf Studios for additional gaming expertise. Wouter Martens: “They specialize in building educational games. As we already knew them well, we were convinced they would be a perfect match with our design and technical skill sets.”
This resulted in a beautiful story of co-creation, in which we acted as a single point of contact for VAN IN. “I am very satisfied with the way we collaborated with all three parties. Today we have launched a version that opens up a completely new perspective for Zomerbingel. It is a textbook example of icapps’ vision: to be a digital partner that grows and develops innovative projects through emerging technologies.” We made the news on TV Limburg with this fantastic collaboration. Check out the video report.
We are sure that our app will continue to work and are confident that icapps will do this just as well as with our Bingel Rocket app
We of course remain available for support over the summer. “Even after the release of our app, we can count on them for the necessary bug fixes. icapps ensures that the app is always up to date with the releases of new OS versions. We are thus sure that our app will continue to work and are confident that icapps will do this just as well as with our Bingel Rocket app,” confirms Chris Patteet, Product Manager at Uitgeverij VAN IN.
According to VAN IN, Zomerbingel 2019 is one of the first apps where AR really adds value to students' learning process. The first feedback of users is very positive but the story doesn't end here. icapps is already looking forward to the future, to extend and improve the app once again and make it even cooler!